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  • Writer's pictureMathushaa Sagthidas

ஒருதீவிலிருந்துஒருநகரம் meaning “A city away from an Island”

This project from my second year of university takes a stylistic and nostalgic approach toward cultures that have always surrounded me. It's like a story of the Tamil culture I was raised around whilst living and being influenced by London cultures; cultures that makes me, me. Referencing my British nationality and my Tamil Sri Lankan ethnicity, through fashion, traditions and heritage. I explored these ideals by creating my own jewellery pieces, that consisted of rich colours found in Sri Lankan traditional wear as well simplicity found in westernised jewellery that I’ve bought. (featured in the images). Gold jewellery is key part of Sri Lankan fashion and dressing; I’ve found within my own family, women and men after often wearing gold jewellery. A big part of my culture was exploring the Kolam, a fundamental component in this project; this was something that I was then about to showcase in a live performance with my mum.

A Kolam is an artistic piece created from (dyed) rice flour/ coconut and often rich in colour. It’s something that is created for religious festivals and events, such as weddings and puberty ceremonies. These components don’t just reflect my ethnicity and traditions in religion, but my curiosity to learn about very different lifestyles my parents lived, when in Sri Lanka. Creating this piece took practice, time and care to understand the patterns and the technically craft behind it. Besides being a sentimental experience, it's also another artistic skill I feel that I have accomplished. 

Making the Kolam was not just an educational experience, that I wanted to include in my work. It was another for me to creatively looking into my family history. My interest began with my family history, specifically my parents. As they immigrated to the UK because of the Sri Lankan civil war that took place from 1983 to 2009. The history of the war, their own personal suffering and experience led me learn and embrace my culture, traditions and heritage; as people who died due to the war are unable to teach others about Sri Lanka, the way I’ve been taught. As tragic and brutal as the war was, without the war my parents might never have moved to UK and started a family, let alone teach me. Every aspect of my Sri Lankan ethnicity is something that I tend to carry with me. Those aspects were the first things I learnt, just like Tamil before English. These components aren’t just a part of my life, but a part of me. For me, it was key that I reflected who I am in the projects I created; so I embraced both cultures, Tamil and British.

Photography by me ©

Styling by Sapna Patel

Math x

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